A quick six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Thursday night:
▪ Even while shedding talent and largely not replacing it to this point in free agency, the Dolphins have shown a commendable restraint financially in two regards:
1)They’ve not paying players beyond their worth. And here’s why that’s important: That maximizes the Dolphins’ ability to collect anywhere between one and four compensatory draft picks for 2020.
By declining to pay Teddy Bridgewater a standard starting quarterback salary (as colleague Armando Salguero noted, he wanted in the range of $16 million annually), the Dolphins won’t sacrifice the third-round compensatory pick it likely will pick up for losing Ja’Wuan James.
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2) They’re making sure there won’t be significant dead-money cap hits with the players they sign beyond 2019.
There would be no money owed to DeVante Parker in 2020, and just as importantly, no dead cap hit for Parker in 2020, if the Dolphins move on after one season instead of paying him the $4.4 million (non-guaranteed) he would be owed in 2020. They also would fully escape the $4.4 million cap hit, according to a copy of the contract shared with The Miami Herald.
There are considerable incentives in the deal that could push his salary higher both years, including a per game roster bonus. So the deal could be worth as much as $13 million over two years.
In 2019, Parker’s base salary and cap hit would be $3.5 million.
The Dolphins protected themselves in Dwayne Allen’s two-year, $7 million deal because his $3.15 million salary in 2020 is not guaranteed There would be minimal dead money ($625,000) if he’s surprisingly cut after one season.
And the other two free agents signed – cornerback Eric Rowe and tight end Clive Walford – were signed to one-year deals.
So the Dolphins remain in position to have just as much cap space in 2020 – potentially more than $120 million – as they did when free agency started.
▪ The Dolphins have agreed to pay Robert Quinn a roster bonus of about $1.1 million owed on Friday, according to a source.
But that does not mean the Dolphins definitely will keep the veteran defensive end. Miami has tried to trade him in recent days and a contract restructure is possible, much as Miami did with Parker.
Quinn is due $11.8 million this season in the final year of his contract, with a $12.9 million cap hit.
Beyond playing defensive end, Quinn potentially could play outside linebacker when Miami plays a 3-4 defense.
Quinn, 28, had 6.5 sacks in 16 games but struggled to set the edge in the running game.
Pro Football Focus rated him 38th of 103 defensive ends, higher than expected.
When a local sportswriter posted a story with a headline saying: “Tannehill, we sort of get. But why is Quinn still on Dolphins’ roster?” former Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon (now with Cleveland), tweeted:
“Sorry sir but what has Tannehill done compared to Robert Quinn? A solidified pass rusher that plays the right side. For the [people] that don’t know (that’s the best OT’s on the offensive line). Don’t disrespect Quinn like that sir! They’re in different boats.”
▪ In a few ways, the Dolphins have taken the George Costanza approach (from one memorable Seinfeld episode) of doing the opposite of what’s expected in the past week.
They kept Parker, who former coach Adam Gase had little use at times last season.
They kept Quinn past this week’s deadline to guarantee $1.1 million, even without making any promises he would be on the roster to start the season.
They signed two veteran tight ends despite using two draft picks on the position last season and extending Nick O’Leary.
But none of these moves should jeopardize this year’s tank – or 2020 cap space if they choose – so while they’re somewhat perplexing, they’re not detrimental.
And Allen’s blocking and mentoring of the young tight ends will be an asset.
After losing out on Bridgewater – which ultimately might be a good thing – this much is clear: There’s no turning back on the tank.
Sign a journeyman quarterback (and that’s all that’s basically left) and address your defensive line with Tank Carradine-type journeyman and draft picks, and you become an instant front-runner for a top three pick, with the Giants, Bengals and potentially Arizona or Oakland.
▪ Expect the Dolphins to strongly consider Ryan Schraeder, among others, in their search for a right tackle.
Schraeder, undrafted out of Valdosta State in 2013, started 73 games and played in 88 over six seasons for the Falcons before being released this week.
He started 13 games this season and was named a Pro Football Focus All Pro in 2015.
▪ Quick stuff: According to a league source, the Dolphins’ offer for James was nowhere near the four-year, $51 million deal that Denver gave him. But Miami made a legitimate attempt to keep him…. Dolphins guard Jesse Davis received a $495,824 bonus as part of NFL’s performance-based pay program, based on playing time-salary formula. His base salary was $555,000, so this bonus near doubles his earnings.
▪ One agent of a current Dolphin said one frustration in recent years has been that you didn’t know necessarily where your player stood because Chris Grier, Adam Gase and Mike Tannenbaum sometimes had vastly different opinions of the same player.
He was hopeful that would be less of an issue now with Grier having full control of personnel.
And Grier quickly parted ways with the three players Gase especially wanted last spring – Josh Sitton, Frank Gore and Danny Amendola.